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Saturday, March 11, 2006

USA Back on Track

Team USA routed South Africa yesterday (I finally just finished watching th egame via Tivo), and it's good to see that they are back on track. I say they're back on track not because they utterly crushed the amateur South African team, but because they (and, in particular, manager Buck Martinez) actually played to win:
  • He stated before the game that the starters (at least that day's starters) would play the entire game. This is good; it makes sure that cold bats aren't introduced into the game late just for the sake of giving people face time.
  • He stated before the game that Roger Clemens would pitch for his full alloted 65 pitches (he actually threw 58...close enough, especially given the game situation), rather than simply pulling him at the third inning like he did with Jake Peavy in game 1.
  • He stuck with this plan, even after the game became a blow-out.
I'm pleased and I'm pretty much over my irritation from games 1 and 2. It remains to be seen whether he'll follow a similar plan in Round 2, but at this point it seems to me that Buck Martinez has decided to play to win. I hope this continues, because there are no sure wins (like South Africa essentially was) in this next bracket. I'll still recommend moving Jr. to left field and letting Vernon Wells or Johnny Damon play center, but I can deal with that for now.

Edit: how could I forget to credit Junior with continuing to destroy the baseball. I replayed his first home run swing in the 2nd inning at least four times, and watched all the various replays by the broadcasters. He still has the most beautiful swing...